Get at the heart of Route 66: Start from the start!
Begin your journey down Route 66 at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in Chicago, famous for its doughnut holes and Milk Duds. Before heading southwest on the “Mother Road”, stop to rent a motorcycle at Illinois Harley-Davidson, then continue onward to check out the diners, casinos, theaters and iconic photo stops in Joliet, Wilmington and Pontiac.
Joliet and Beyond
Just 72 kilometers south of Chicago’s loop, Route 66 runs through Joliet, the fourth largest city in Illinois. Head to the Route 66 Welcome Center at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. Visitors can get an authentic and hands-on Route 66 Experience. Treat yourself to lunch at nearby Joliet Route 66 Diner. Afterward, try your luck at Harrah’s Casino, take a walk along the DesPlaines River in beautiful Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park or stop into the Rialto Square, a magnificently restored vaudeville theater. Don’t miss Joliet Prison Park with its informational kiosks highlighting movies and television shows that were filmed at the adjacent Collins Street Prison.
Wayside Exhibits & To-Do Downtowns
Route 66 Wayside Exhibits, which can be found in Berwyn, Countryside, Willowbrook and Romeoville, tell unique and often surprising tales of the road from the local community. Newly added Experience Hubs, located in Romeoville, Joliet and Wilmington, each add a thread to the story.
The picturesque I&M Canal towns are hubs of area history and culture. Find the canal headquarters in Lockport, where landmark buildings and events preserve the details of the canal and how it came to be. Along with Lemont, Morris and others, the towns clustered along the I&M offer antique shops, trendy boutiques and a range of dining options, from cozy gastropubs to upscale eateries. In Pontiac, find a haven for the arts. While you’re in town, stop in to the Pontiac Oakland Museum, which features antique automobiles and related artifacts.
Taking in the historic buildings and I&M Canal landmarks in Lockport
From Farms to Flea Markets
Traveling down Route 66 (now designated Route 53), stop at White Fence Farm, home to the “World’s Greatest Chicken”. Take a selfie with the resident chicken at the front door! Next door is Montana Charlie’s Little America Flea Market, an outdoor extravaganza of new and old items, furniture and food; you may even find some Route 66 collectibles. Pass by the famous Stateville Penitentiary and Route 66 Park, and be sure to stop for some dairy delights at Rich and Creamy.
Showing off the 'World's Greatest Chicken' in front of White Fence Farm
Photo Op Stops
Heading south on Route 66 you’ll see NASCAR’s Chicagoland Speedway, Route 66 Speedway, Abraham Lincoln National Memorial Cemetery and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Take your photo with the Gemini Giant, a fiberglass rocket man left over from the country’s fascination with space travel during the 1960s. The Polk-a-Dot Drive In serves up great food and Route 66-themed fun. Take your photo with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, The Blues Brothers and Betty Boop there. Gardner’s two-cell jail stands next to a restored streetcar-turned-diner that fed many Route 66 travelers. Pose next to Starved Rock Park’s amazing waterfalls in Oglesby. Head to LaSalle, St. Louis, French, Ottawa and Tonti canyons for the best views in spring or winter, when the waterfalls freeze into icefalls, and check out the dramatic sandstone bluffs.
Posing with the Elvis statue at The Polk-a-Dot Drive In